2017 Book List

Hello guys, how has your last week of the year been? Some days back I was thinking that if I have to choose a favorite month, I do will choose December. Even as that thought came to my head, I realized the silliness of it all. It's like asking what's your favorite day of the week. Hey a Monday can be good too and a Saturday can be awful. Somehow I got to be so enamored with December what with the holiday spirit all around, knowing full well that by January that dreaded emotional crash is going to happen. I thought it will come knocking on the last day of the year, didn't expect that crash to happen pretty much the evening of 25th December. Yes as Christmas is wrapping up for the year, I got restless and depression hit me :( Could it be that it's because for some reason I couldn't sleep the night before and I was rather hungry, hence the bad mood? I don't know. I'm just rather sad despite knowing that the last week of the year doesn't seem to have anything particularly stressful (but me writing that could pretty well jinx it) and I also somewhat have a plan on things to do next year. So in a way I have things to look forward to. However as always with my mental state, I'm swinging rapidly, sometime I can be so excited and eager and other time I feel like I'm in a dump. When that "oops, there goes gravity feeling comes, it really sucks, really sucks :( Oh well, hope you guys have been enjoying your holidays and be in a better shape to welcome the new year than me who has to be dragged in.

So anyways, the purpose of writing this post is to write a recap of the books read this year. Started the The Sympathizer last year, so I'm gonna put that as 0 instead of 1.
  1. The Sympathizer - Viet Thanh Nguyen
  2. Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee
  3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany
  4. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
  5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
  6. The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose was more enjoyable than I expected and that's a good surprise. I tells the story of a murder mystery in a medieval monastery. As more murders happened, you're more and more sucked in trying to figure out who did it and why. While that story is driving the plot, there's also a lot of theological discussions in it. In a way, the book reminds me of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's The Buru Quartet where there's a lot of nation building and identity discussion in addition to what the characters go through. However Pramoedya Ananta Toer's books may seem to be filled more with those thoughts and discussion than actual story while Umberto Eco's book seem to me to be offering them in equal measure. I like the discussion about poverty in Christianity and though the discussion about laughter and comedy in Christianity read at this modern age is laughable for me, it did open my mind that centuries ago or perhaps still is now, humour can be seen as a weapon that needs to be clamped down. Truly while the book is set in medieval age, the discussion about religion and politics are still very relevant today. As an Indonesian reading it, there were times when I look back at what's happening in Indonesia this year because the passages in the book seem to be very much describing the motive behind it all *sigh* Anyways, the book has a lot of Latin in them and how I wish I can understand them all :( Italian is quite different that I can't use my knowledge to guess the meaning of it. There's a Postscript in the book and Umberto Eco explained that it's intentional and it doesn't matter if the readers don't understand them. His Postscript is also very interesting, explaining various aspects on how he worked on the book. I like how he wrote something along this line that it's not the Author's job to direct what the readers' think of the book. The work must speak for itself. I'm maybe rephrasing him wrongly there. He also wrote about something that I have read J.K. Rowling mentioned before, the fact that they know all the background history of their characters and places that they wrote about. Though they're not mentioned in the book, but they're there and it helped them shape how these characters or places interact.

I also managed to watch the movie version of this, starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater. I know it's an old movie and I did expect to see a young Christian Slater, but I was surprised to see that he was so so young, teenager young. It reminded me of how young Zac Effron was in High School Musical. Movie adaptation bounds to be different and somewhat disappointing to the book and I can't say I like it much. They changed parts of the story and also used things from the Postscript. While the ending was still in a blaze of damnation, I thought the book's ending was so much more powerful. When I was reading the ending of the book while holding an actual book, I can't help feeling so sad and heartbroken about what happened. I guess the movie tried to keep the interesting things and moved things along, but I thought some of the interesting things were the deductions made from the main character, so glossing over them by using flashback and giving time to the awkward sex scene (which I think it's not that necessary) does not highlight what the whole murders are about and also why solving them is important. I guess to really adapt a book well you need like a miniseries or something. 2 hours is not really sufficient.

So now I'm reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, the 2017 fiction Pulitzer prize winner. I don't think I will finish it before this year ends. It's been good so far in terms of reading it, but the story about slavery is heartbreaking. Today I even gasped audibly in horror when reading one of the passages. Back to movies. I haven't been watching much lately. Last week I watched Wonder and I like it a lot. Watched it because Jacob Tremblay is in it and I like him in Room. I had a lot tears in Wonder. It's really good and I like how the movie really centered on the kids. Before going in, I thought the parents - being that they're played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson - would get more screen time, but not really. We don't have to hear them complain about how hard it is for them too. The kids were great. This is also based on a book. I haven't read the book. I wonder if I will get disappointed reading it because like Room, I also think this movie is already great on its own. Then yesterday, I managed to watch the new Jumanji. It's not bad. Everyone in the cinema seemed to have a good laugh. Most interesting character for me was Jack Black's one because he's playing a different gender and of course he did well :) There's was a disappointment in me that in the present future world the adult Alex didn't end up with Bethany even though I realized the age difference would make it tricky. Now that I think about it, Alex had 20 years to live his life and to not move on is unrealistic. So now his last scene with Bethany feels like a good closure to me :)

:) eKa @ 7:33:00 PM •


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